What is Wy/Jo Care?
Wy/Jo Care is a community partnership to improve access to specialty health care for low-income, uninsured residents of Wyandotte and Johnson counties. It combines care provided in primary care safety net clinics with donated specialty care in a coordinated referral program led by the Medical Society of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties. It is designed to enhance the work of existing safety net clinics and other community agencies. Wy/Jo Care is the only specialty referral network serving the low-income, uninsured residents of Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
Why is Wy/Jo Care needed?
More than 63,000 of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties residents do not have health insurance. Often, those without health insurance are working in one or more low-wage jobs without health benefits, earning too much to qualify for programs like Medicaid but not earning enough to afford health insurance and still meet other essential needs such as food, clothing, and housing. This need is especially of concern now with the current economic climate.
Many of the low-income, uninsured receive primary care services through safety net clinics located in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. However, until Wy/Jo Care there was no organized system in place for referring these patients to specialists. Before, safety net physicians and clinic staff worked the phones until they found a specialist willing to help. This was an expensive and inefficient way to locate services, and put pressure on the same physicians to provide charity care.
How does Wy/Jo Care work?
Wy/Jo Care serves as a centralized point of entry for safety net clinics' patient specialty referrals. We maintain a referral database to guarantee that only the number of patients each physician has agreed to accept will be referred to their practice. Patients are assigned to specialists on a rotating basis to ensure an equal distribution of these patients among the physicians who signed up to participate. A similar rotating assignment protocol is used for the hospital-based laboratory, imaging studies, surgeries and inpatient care as needed.
Patients are referred to Wy/Jo Care by physicians and health care providers working in the safety net clinics, public health departments or emergency rooms including: Duchesne Clinic, Health Partnership Clinic of Johnson County, Mercy & Truth Medical Missions, Silver City Clinic, Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care Services, Swope Health West, Swope Health Wyandotte, and Turner House Clinic for Children.
Wy/Jo Care staff schedules the patient's first appointment with the specialist's office. Most appointments will be scheduled on a first available basis. You will not be asked to see patients outside of your regular business hours.
Before the patient arrives, the office is provided with any pertinent clinical information, including a preliminary diagnosis and imaging reports. Wy/Jo Care facilitates the transfer of medical records to the specialist's office. To ensure that any laboratory tests, X-rays, examination preparations or forms required are completed prior to the patient's visit, we confirm with the scheduler if any pre-appointment testing is needed.
Who can receive this care?
Wy/Jo Care patients must have been a Wyandotte or Johnson County resident for the past three months, uninsured, and not qualify for governmental programs, like Medicare or Medicaid. Total family income must be 200% or less of federal poverty guidelines ($22,980 per year for a single person).
What is the patient's responsibility in the program?
Patients are responsible for keeping appointments and for making a good-faith effort to work in partnership with their doctors. Wy/Jo Care facilitates medical interpreters and patient transportation when requested.
What if I already give charity care?
Wy/Jo Care guarantees that you will only be asked to care for the number of patients you have pledged to see through the program. Having a broad base of specialists volunteering for Wy/Jo Care should reduce your burden of caring for the uninsured. The safety net clinics are using Wy/Jo Care to make the majority of their specialty referrals. With the referrals being centralized at Wy/Jo Care, calls directly from the safety net clinics should be minimal.
If you see a patient needing a primary care physician, you may contact the Wy/Jo Care office. The staff there can help the patient find a medical “home” in one of the safety net clinics.
What would be my responsibilities as a volunteer specialty physician?
First, you complete the Volunteer Physician Participation form which tells us how many patients you would like to see each year, your office location, hospital preferences, and age range of patient you wish to see.
Wy/Jo Care staff schedules the patient's first appointment with the specialist's office. When the patient arrives, he/she will present a Wy/Jo Care card to your office staff. You will see the patient just as you see other patients. You will be provided with the name and number of the patient's provider in their safety net clinic, pertinent clinical information and the results of any routine diagnostic procedures you would like the patient to have prior to the appointment. A letter detailing your assessment and care plan should be sent to the referring physician and Wy/Jo Care. Wy/Jo Care and the safety net clinic will help facilitate subsequent care.
Your office staff is asked to electronically submit a non-payable claim to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City. This data is used for tracking purposes only. Please keep in mind no payment will be forthcoming.
What if a patient needs medication?
Through the safety net clinics and other community resources patients have access to low-cost or no-cost medication assistance programs for uninsured patients. While these programs do not cover all medications, many are covered.
What if a patient needs laboratory or diagnostic studies?
If there are diagnostic services that the patient needs such as laboratory studies, X-rays, or other tests, you may choose to donate these, if you regularly do these in your office. Alternatively, Wy/Jo Care will assist your office staff in arranging for these studies at other participating facilities. There is no pre-certification or other restriction; you decide what is medically necessary.
What if a patient needs surgery and hospitalization?
All major hospitals in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties have given their support to the Wy/Jo Care program by pledging to donate needed laboratory, diagnostic and surgical services.
What about malpractice coverage?
The Charitable Health Care Provider Program (CHCPP) provides liability coverage to physicians with a Kansas License who donate care to the medically indigent. Under this program, charitable health care providers who are sued by a recipient of their donated care will be defended by the Attorney General's office. The Tort Claim Fund will be the payer of first resort, even if other insurance coverage exists. There is no cost for enrolling in this program. The Wy/Jo Care staff will help facilitate your enrollment and complete the required annual reports.
Why should I support Wy/Jo Care?
Wy/Jo Care is a highly visible example of physician leadership in action. At a time when the practice of medicine is becoming increasingly complex and frustrating, Wy/Jo Care is a pleasant contrast: designed by physicians, coordinated by the Medical Society of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, and focused on the fundamental values of the medical profession. It is an opportunity for doctors, hospitals and other community agencies to help existing safety net clinics and agencies provide needed care in a way that is coordinated, efficient, and more effective than any single entity could provide alone.
Where can I find more information on Wy/Jo Care?
For more information, please e-mail [email protected] or by phone at 913-403-0544.